Bright and Early.
Over the last 13 years that I have been attending Hurricanes games, you know, when its FSU, its an ALL DAY event.
12pm kickoff? Get up at 6am.
3pm Kickoff? Get up at 6am.
8pm Primetime. Get your Green and Orange behind out of bed, AT, 6AM.
That has always been consistent.
So, three years ago, when Miami played FSU on that fateful night in Tallahassee at Hard Rock North, it was key to drive up the night before so I could make the 6am wake-up call.
The trip had been in works for a few months at this point. Usually we have family of about 20 for home games but, naturally an away game cut that down to about 10. For me, it was my first trip to Tallahassee for a game. I drove through on my way to my Bachelor Party in the NOLA for Mardi Gras the year before (TURN UP!!!) but never felt the need to stop, obviously. So it was exciting to finally get a chance to get up to enemy soil and cheer for that W.
In my car was me, my wife Megan and her cousin, Brooke, whose friend was staying in Tally at the time and graciously gave us a space to sleep (much appreciated). The drive up was definitely the worst part of the whole weekend. Even though 7 hours isn’t bad for a road trip, when you REALLY want to get somewhere it tends to feel longer than that.
Rolling into the state capital around 10pm the night before the game, we weren’t really able to see much but you could just feel the small, college town vibe with the country homes, main street and lack of palm trees, lol. The next morning, up at the prescribed gameday hour, I was excited to make it out to the local Publix, to start taking in the local vibe for gameday. I was expecting to see a decent amount of fans, even at that early juncture. (For those that have been to the Publix on 199th and 441 on GameDay, you know what I mean.)
To my surprise it was just about empty. It was me and two other Canes Fans who had already broken the seal on the drinks, but thats it. No students, no families, no dad’s getting ice for the cooler, nothing. My wife's cousin who is an FSU fan, stands by the statement that the students just stay up the night before, but call me skeptical because I’m not buying it.
Fast forward to the late morning, and past a few cervezas, 10 of us made our way to a little Budget Inn parking lot close to the stadium. One of my friends with me that day, new Cane mom Angelica Knickerbocker, fondly remembered the lot we occupied before the game.
“We tailgated in a basically empty motel parking lot but had a blast (and made friends with those picture above with the RV). Kygo was new on the scene and JP (my cousin in law) played his music just to make us happy.” Angelica continued, “I remember the turnover chain was still a new novelty which is crazy to think about now.”
My Cousin in law, Christine Murray, had a similar take to the parking lot tailgate.
“The Hotel parking was unexpectedly a blast. Felt a little out of place playing all the Hurricane jams in Tally but it worked! The *new* DymeLyfe Turnover Chain Shirts were all the rage and impossible to find.”
The Turnover Chain was still fresh and revolutionary to college football’s in game reward systems, and the guys with the RV were working with DymeLyfe and selling Turnover Chains on site at the game. We all made sure to get a shirt prior to the game.
It was surprising once again that the Miami presence felt more PRESENT, even in the heart of our biggest rivals territory. First the supermarket and then tailgate time. As we started to make our way to the stadium, walking through the heart of the campus, even then the Florida State presence was timid at best. Especially when compared to a packed Hard Rock parking lot in the Gardens, where it’s basically an alcohlic sea of Orange and Green. It was beginning to feel very different from years passed, when going into the game it felt like we had to subdue Florida State fans with our own bravado. That year, it felt as though there was a palpable nervousness. Maybe it was Jimbo Fisher’s public spat that had fans concerned, or just a premonition that change was in the air. Regardless, it was WAAAY to quiet for what is one of college football’s premier rivalries.
Getting IN to the stadium was when the obvious presence of opposing fans was felt but more than that I noticed, A) Doak Campbell, on the outside, isn’t a bad stadium, B) Their practice field is hoooooorrible, C) It was a pain in the you know what trying to get in. When you play at an NFL stadium you take for granted how easy it is to get in and find what you need. Doak Campbell, not even close to simple navigation, entry and the concessions are a D-.
Pettyness aside, an ok stadium.
As we made our way to our seats, (fan section, duh) the green and orange flow was STRONG. We ran into quite a few people that we see regularly at Hard Rock and the love was heavy among Canes fans.
Now, I have been to a few opposing stadiums, and the fans once again, were DOCILE. When I went to Pitt/Miami at Pittsburgh I got beat Miami Sucks chants all the way to my seat (We blistered that PITT booty though). Here, It still felt like the State fans knew the gig might be up and were tentative to give us any reason to go heavy on the smack during and after what would be a Miami victory.
My wife, Megan, and Her Cousin Brooke (Boo for short), join to recall the there first takes in stadium.
Brooke: “I do remember that I wanted to sit in seats that were meant for the away team but there were still some FSU fans. I was sitting next to one. She wasn’t too bad but she would give me side eye when I was cheering. I also thought it was weird that we had to park in the motel parking lot as well. I thought there should have been a better parking situation around the stadium.
Christine: “ I remember a lot of “U SUCK” FSU shirts... which I am sure the fans felt crunchy wearing out of the stadium, lol.”
Megan: “HAHA! Crunchy for real! Oh but this little kid in front of us, jeez this boy. He couldn’t have been more than 8 but he heckled me (us) for most of the game. As I mom I felt weird heckling back, but by the 4th quarter I had to give him a taste of his own medicine when we started taking the lead! Haha!”
As for me I was just taking in the scenery and enjoying finally making it to Tally for a game. Their pre game was interesting to say the least, and even though its not meant to be aesthetic, the bleacher/bowl look just looks bad. And I will say, when one of the guys in the color guard pregame dropped his baton, I was ready to claim victory on site.
The game itself was tight and it felt that way for all of the first half. You could feel the nervousness from the Garnet and Gold crowd, while the Miami seating was waiting for just about anything to roar about. The Canes faithful at many points throughout the game, including Kendrick Norton’s “Leg Guitar” sack and Ahmmon Richards life altering block for Malik Rosier were moments when we nearly knocked the roof off.
It was an amazing game to be at and you just felt yourself clinging to every moment. The Throw from Rosier to Braxton Berrios to this day I still don’t understand how it got made but it was amazing to witness. Rather than undress a game we have all lived with and loved since it’s occurrence, I’d live to leave you with a victory pose, because ever since this game, when it comes to FSU and Miami, its been ALL, About the U.
Three in a row, and counting. Conquered, indeed.